Nisha contacted the FMA in May 2021 to report a scam that was targeting users of popular social media platform Linkedin – a scam which had cost her over $3000.
She'd connected with a woman on Linkedin who convinced her to send money to an entity called Standard Coin Options, which later insisted she pay ‘tax’ on her supposed ‘profits’ before they would release them – a variation of ‘advance fee fraud’, where you must pay to release non-existent funds.
Nisha tells her story below.
“I connected with a girl name ‘Rayes Moore’ on Linkedin on 3rd May. She claimed she was a professional stock-broker and an expert in binary trading.
“As I often invest, I thought this was a good opportunity. I gave her my number and started chatting in WhatsApp.
“She suggested I invest with Standard Coin Options Brokers, and she gave me their website which all looks very real.”
So, a week after connecting, Nisha agreed to invest just over $400 in binary options – a type of investment in which you predict the price movements of a share, commodity, currency or index.
And just one week later, Standard Coin Options said she’d already made a profit – of over $20,000.
“I thought wow, now I can easily pay off my student loans.”
However, before Nisha could withdraw that money, they said she’d first have to pay $2,800 in ‘tax’.
None the wiser, Nisha sent images of her debit card and passport, and other personal details, to a man called ‘Mr. Wilson’, and then sent the money via money transfer to a ‘Jackson Joy’ in India.
“Mr Wilson told me the next day that I could finally withdraw my profit. But as I was giving details of my bank account, he said I have to pay another $3,000 in ‘tax’, this time to the New Zealand Government.
“I said I wouldn’t pay, but he said I have to, or else the trading session was finished and I wouldn’t be able to withdraw the funds.”
“And I would have paid, if I had the money. But thankfully I didn't have enough in my account. I said I have no money, and he said he will help me with the first $900 and I can pay him the rest.”
It was then that Nisha realised it was a scam – just 15 days after first being approached on Linkedin.
She then blocked ‘Rayes Moore’ on WhatsApp, and attempted to warn her own contacts on Linkedin.
“I posted on LinkedIn and a few friends said Rayes Moore had also contacted them, and then I saw she was connecting with everyone I know.
“Now [the scammers] constantly message me and even sent me screenshots of so many people who have paid them money.”
So, Nisha reported her case to the FMA, which investigated and then issued a public warning about Standard Coin Options.
Nisha says the whole experience has cost her money, sleep, and confidence as an investor.
“I saved that money for student loans and because of their scheme I thought the loan would be paid off very easily. Instead, I’ve had sleepless nights and regrets.”
Her advice to anyone who is contacted via social media and offered investments?
“Block them straight away, report them and inform your friends and family.
“I trusted them. Their messages were so kind - I am a soft hearted person and believed too easily.
“I would never do such a thing to anyone and I thought the rest of the world is the same. It's not.”